13 steps to effective user/stakeholder interviews

I had the good fortune to conduct user and stakeholder interviews with regard to an application that the client had developed 6 months ago. The application was up and running and this project was launched in order to look at streamlining the application and making it more intelligent and easy to use.

This is where I came in… My job was to personally fix interviews with the interviewees. The only problem was that the interviewees belonged to several different countries across the world. I must accept however that I have never a more satisfying experience where work was concerned. It was actually enlightening to speak to so many of these people around the globe.

So here’s how an interview is conducted.

Plan:

  • Be as thorough as possible with the application in question.
  • Prepare a questionnaire on the key issues you wish to explore. The questions would ideally be open-ended.
  • Keep a notebook handy to jot down the interviewees answers.

Interview:

  • Introduce yourself and describe the project and its purpose.
  • Put the interviewees at ease and assure them that the session did not aim to test them. It is the system that is being tested.
  • Have them answer the questions that you have prepared.
  • Keep the tone of the interview informal.
  • Encourage the interviewees to speak freely. However the interview should remain focused on the topic at hand.
  • Speak to a variety of people with different roles. Each might give you valuable insights on the application.

Document:

  • Assimilate all the key findings from the interviews.
  • Work on your report on the interviews.
  • Display the key findings from the interviews and the recommended action to solve the issue.
  • In the final page of your report list your recommendations and possible action items that your client can take away from your report.

For further reading on stakeholder interviews, I’d suggest “Setting Up Business Stakeholder Interviews” by Micheal Beavers 

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